Performance and Carcass Characteristics of Finishing Beef Cattle Managed in a Bedded Hoop-Barn System

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Journal of Animal Science





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The use of bedded hoop barns in finishing systems for beef cattle has not been widely researched. In this management system, beef cattle are confined to hoop barns throughout finishing, and bedding is used to absorb animal waste, which results in minimal effluent. The objective of this study was to compare the performance and carcass characteristics of finishing beef steers (n = 1,428) managed in a bedded hoop-barn management system vs. an open-feedlot system with shelter. Six feeding trials were conducted over a 3-yr period. Three trials were conducted during summer-fall and 3 trials were conducted during winter-spring. Crossbred steers were allotted to 3 pens in the hoop-barn system and to 3 pens in the open-lot system (approximately 40 steers per pen in both facility systems). Stocking densities for the steers were 4.65 m2 per steer in the hoop-barn system and 14.7 m2 per steer in the open-lot system. The steers were begun on trial weighing 410 and 411 kg (SD = 21), were fed for 102.3 and 103.0 d (SD = 3.8), and were weighed off test at 595 and 602 kg (SD = 21) for the hoop-barn and open-lot systems, respectively. Steer performance measures consisted of ADG, DMI, and G:F. Carcass characteristics were HCW, fat thickness, LM area, KPH percentage, marbling score, USDA yield grade, and USDA quality grade. No year, season, or pen (management system) main effects, or season × management system and year × management system interactions were observed for any of the items measured related to cattle performance or carcass characteristics (P > 0.05). Final mud scores (a subjective evaluation of the amount of soil and manure adhering to the hair coat of the animals) were greater for the steers from the open-lot system compared with those from the hoop-barn system (P < 0.02), suggesting steers in the hoop-barn system carried less mud than steers from the open-lot system. Average daily cornstalk bedding use in the hoop-barn system was 2.3 kg/steer during summer-fall and 2.6 kg/steer during winter-spring. The performance of finishing cattle managed in a hoop-barn system was not different from the performance of cattle managed in an open-feedlot system with shelter during summer and winter. Managing beef cattle in hoop barns required more bedding but resulted in decreased mud scores compared with cattle managed in an open-lot system with shelter. Hoop barns are a viable alternative housing management system for finishing beef cattle.


This article is from Journal of Animal Science 88 (2010): 2797, doi:10.2527/jas.2009-2521. Posted with permission.

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American Society of Animal Science



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